Minus and Minimē with Negative Force

Minus and minimē are the comparative adverbs meaning less so and least of all. However, in colloquial Latin they typically fill the role of ‘not’ and ‘no.’

  • Sī minus possunt, exeāmus. If they are unable, let us head out.
  • Audācissimus ego tand’ ex omnibus?—minimē. Am I therefore the most outrageous of men? Certainly not.

This effect is also present in in phrases with the subjunctive and quōminus (= ut eō minus).

  • Nōn aetās impedit quōminus agrī colendī studia teneāmus. Age does not prevent us from retaining an interest in tilling the soil.
  • Nihil impedit quōminus id facere possīmus. Nothing prevents us from doing that.

The Essential AG: 558b


Comparison of Adverbs: Irregular and Defective

Here are some irregular adverbs that defy the rules set up in this post.

  • diū, diūtius, diūtissimē, for a long time, for a longer time, for the longest time
  • potius, —— potissimum, rather, first of all
  • saepe, saepius,saepissimē, often, more often/again, most often
  • satis, satius, —— enough, preferable
  • secus, sētius, —— otherwise, worse
  • multum (or multō), magis (or mage), maximē, much, more, most
  • parum, minus, minimē, not enough, less, least
  • nūper, ——, nūperrimē, newly, most newly
  • temperē, temperius, —— seasonably, more seasonably

Most of these are either disconnected from their corresponding adjectives (semantically), or are defective in either comparative or superlative form. However, the real outlier here is the multum/ō, magis/e, maximē set, which is an aggregate of various options. Multō is of course the ablative singular neuter for the positive adjective, and mage the neuter accusative of the comparative adjective.

Magis and maximē may also be paired with other adjectives to create their comparatives, especially in adjectives ending in -eus or -ius (in the positive.)

  • idōneus, magis idōneus, maximē idōneus, fit, more fit, most fit

The Essential AG: 128, 218a

Answering ‘No.’

There are several ways to respond ‘no’ in Latin.

1. The first is to repetition the verb of the question and add nōn, which expresses denial.

  • Do you sing?—I do not sing: canisne?—nōn canō.
  • Does your father jog?—No, he doesn’t: currit parēns?—nōn currit.

2. As with affirmations, there are a number of places where this would get awkward, so the Romans have a variety of negating adverbs to replace the repeated verb.

  • Is this a frog?—no it is not: estne rana?—nōn est. (awkward)
  • Is this a frog?—nope. estne rana?—nōn.

There a set number of these adverbs, and they sometimes couple to form more emphatic responses.

  • nōn, no, not so
  • minimē, not at all
  • nūllo modō, by no means

Unlike the affirmations, negation responses are fairly homogenous in sense. ‘Nōn‘ is simple the tame counterpart to anything else. Some of the combinations have more a vibrant semantic character:

  • minimē vērō, certainly not
  • nōn quidem, no way!
  • nōn hercle vēro, oh, heavens no!

Some examples:

  • Is she as gorgeous as they say?—hell no. estne ut fertur in formā?—nōn hercle vēro.
  • Did you already take out the trash?—nope. stramenta exduxistī?—nōn factum.
  • Is he really so selfish?—Not at all! estne vērō tantum egoisticus?—minimē vērō.

The Essential AG: 336b

If you readers out there know of any other standard Latin ‘no’s feel free to add them below.